Bethany's story

Bethany works as an apprentice at the Martin Place Metro station. She started her career in the construction industry by studying wall and ceiling lining at TAFE NSW. We asked Bethany questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.

Bethany is standing on a construction site.

About Bethany

I’m studying for a Certificate III in Wall and Ceiling Lining with TAFE NSW as a part of my apprenticeship. There are different tickets that I need to be able to work on the job site, such as working at heights, working in confined spaces, and my scissor lift ticket, also known as an elevating work platform or EWP card.

I quite liked art and some of the English courses.

I worked Monday through Friday casually for a long time in fast food and face-to-face fundraising. I was also a supervisor for a couple of years. It was all casual employment, and I started when I was 16 or 17 years old.

I was always destined for a construction career! All my family work in construction. My dad does frame and gyprock work. And some of my uncles are in the business. When my grandfather came to Australia from Croatia, he started to do that. So, it's part of my heritage. And I’m carrying on the family trade.

"My course is going well. The idea is that everything I learn, I apply in the workspace."

- Bethany on studying and working at the same time.

Can you tell us about your current job?

I work and learn on the job and study for a qualification with a registered training organisation concurrently. I’m studying a three-year Certificate III in Ceiling and Wall Lining at TAFE NSW. I'll then have one year remaining as an apprentice on site. When the four years are up, I’ll be fully qualified. Foxville Projects employ me, and we’re currently working on the Martin Place Metro development. 

Some days, I'm moving materials which keep me fit. On other days, I’m a spotter—if someone's working up on an EWP, they need me down below, ready for emergencies and to make sure people passing by don't enter the exclusion zone. 

I prefer hands-on jobs, which I'm getting more of lately. Lots of sheeting (installing) the gyprock (plasterboard). We fix the gyprock onto the wall and ceiling studs. And I do a lot of caulking (sealing). For safety reasons, everything we do must comply with the fire rating standard.

After that, it's over to the painters to come in and do their job, and we move on.

What does a typical day look like?

I’m on-site at 7 am, and we've been doing a lot of 10-hour days, so I don’t leave until 5 pm. It’s 7 am to 3 pm on a Saturday. 

First, we go up into the lunch shed for the site manager’s toolbox talk. A toolbox talk is a safety talk, it takes in safety updates, issues and reminders, but it can include other things too that we all need to know. 

Then it’s down onto the site to check in with the foreman for the day’s job allocations. Next, we head to the toolboxes for everything we'll need to get the tasks done, go over to the location, and get started.

The tasks vary from day to day. So, one day could be sheeting the gyprock, the next day, caulking it.

We take a half-hour lunch break at about 11:30 am. And there’s another short break somewhere.

Towards the end of the day, we clean up and ensure there's no rubbish left. 

What's the best part of your job?

I enjoy the physical aspects of the job, using my energy, and being part of a team. When you're working with good people, it’s a lot of fun, and you can laugh.

What the most challenging part of your job?

Sometimes, you get underestimated as a woman, which can be a bit annoying. But it helps if you believe in yourself, let people know you’re capable, and show them you can do it. 

Another challenge is the 4:30 am wake-up! Of course, plenty of people have to wake up early, but sometimes you want to sleep.

What personal skills and attributes do you need for a job like yours?

A bit of grit and some physical strength, too, not that they’ll throw you into the most demanding things. Since I started the job earlier this year, I've built muscle from lifting materials, and it’s easier now. Maths and communication skills are helpful to have. I’m improving mine through TAFE. Oh, and you can't be afraid to get dirty. 

"Be genuine and approachable. Most construction workers are open and up for a chat." - Bethany on making a positive impression on-site.

What’s changed, changing, or coming soon to make construction an industry-of-choice? 

It’s an industry that seems to open up and bring more women inside. So, that’s good. 

Safety in the workplace is continually improving. But wearing long pants and long sleeves in high-temperature weather can be annoying. It’s already hot down in the basement where I’m working!

People are using phones and iPads to look at all the plans rather than carry around paper and magnifying glasses, making things easier.

And in my grandfather’s time, they carried ladders around. Now, we have scissor lifts to go up and down on.

Rostered days off are good, and we usually get more public holidays—if there’s a long weekend, you get three days, but we get four days off!

Do you have a workplace mentor or champion?

There are people at work that teach and help me. There’s nothing official. And I can always ask my dad for advice. 

My grandfather is my inspiration. He worked in construction for a long time back when things were so different, and he’s got a lot of stories to tell. 

Best career advice about joining/advancing your construction industry career?

I’ve had good advice about what to do if you want to work your way to the top. But a more present one is don’t rush, and avoid mistakes because people can get hurt. You don't want to be too slow in getting the job done, but accidents can happen if you rush and don’t pay attention. So, my advice is to stay focused.


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What are 3 things make a good construction company where people want to work?

I think good construction companies have:   

  • Mutual respect – where people can be work friends, no matter who they are.
  • Pride – a company that’s doing well, has a good name, is taking on the big projects, and you can be proud to work for them.
  • Opportunities – Where there is encouragement and opportunities to learn, develop and succeed.

What's next career-wise? And in the longer term?

Careerwise, I'll finish my apprenticeship and then see what happens. I might move into a supervisory or safety role. Perhaps a foreman or forewoman role. I’ll figure it out along the way. I want to travel overseas. Potentially, I could open my own business.

What project is most exciting to you?

I'm working on the Martin Place Metro station underground at the bottom of the basement. I’m working my way up B5, B4, and B3. I want to work in the tower to see the sun and the lovely views. So I’m literally working my way up. 

Why is the construction industry the one to be in?

You can be yourself. There’s crazy money to be made. And there’s a lot of opportunity to grow your career.

Annie's story

Annie works as a carpentry apprentice for Chandolin Construction. She started her career in the construction industry by studying for a Certificate III in Carpentry. We asked Annie about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.

Jessica's story

Jessica works as a Project Engineer at the Randwick Campus Redevelopment. She started her career in the construction industry by studying Civil Engineering with Honours at the University of Wollongong. We asked Jessica questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.


Entering the workforce can be overwhelming, especially if you are unsure about what you want to pursue . On this page, you will find resources and tools to help test different areas of the construction industry while studying and successfully transition from school to a paying job.

Parents and educators

It's important to know the facts when speaking to young women considering a career in construction to let them make an informed decision about their career. 

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